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How to Make a Solar Panel

Updated on September 20, 2018

When it comes to building solar panels, what makes it most appealing to you?

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Principle

If your considering using solar power for your home, you will need to know how to make solar power.Making solar panels can be a enjoyable hobby for the do-it-yourselfer as well as experiencing the satisfaction of reducing and/or eliminating your electric bill each month.

Firstly, you will have to know solar panels. They are photoelectric cells made of glasses and silicon. They capture sunlight and convert it to energy. The good point about them is that they are lightweight and movable. You can place them on the top of your roofs or place them on your backyard. Anywhere would be acceptable as long as they face enough sunlight in the southern direction.The more sunlight they capture, the more that is converted into electricity.

Material List :

1-2'x4' sheet of 3/4" plywood

12' of 3/4 strips of wood

1-2'x4' sheet of plexi-glass

1-2'x4' sheet of pegboard

1-16oz tube of clear Silicone

1-3.0 amp diode

36-3"x6" solar cells

1-qt white enamel paint

1-16 oz of Wood Glue

Instructions:

Solar cells: Each 3X6" solar cell produces .5 volts APR. In order to recharge a 12v Battery, you must connect 36 cells in series. 36 x .5 volts= 18volts. This would give the battery a sufficient charge. You will notice that on the top blue side there are two strips. These are the negative terminals. On the back side you will find six soldering points. These are the positive terminals of the solar cell. To hook up in series connection, you must go from negative on the top side, to the positive terminal of the next cell, which is on bottom.. This is called a series connection. I personally feel that it is easier to solder bus wire across three terminals on the bottom side allowing a 1" protrusion of to the side. This protrusion will allow connection to the next cell. Make three strings of cells using 12 cells in each string. Be very careful as cells are very fragile and may require assistance when aligning the three strings of cells.

Plywood: Plywood must be coated with at least 3 coats of white paint. This protects against any moisture inside the panel such as condensation. Paint also the pegboard. The 3/4" strips of wood are to be mounted on the outside edge of the plywood all the way around. It also must be painted.

PEGBOARD: The Pegboard serves as a insulator for the solar cells. Coats the pegboard with at least three coats of white paint. The purpose of the is to seal from moisture. If the pegboard absorbs the moisture, it will buckle and break the solar cells. The pegboard must be cut to loosely fit on the plywood within the 3/4"strips. The purpose of only using 3/4" strips is to keep the sides of the panel low to maximize the sunlight on the solar cells.

MOUNTING CELLS: Arrange the solar cells on the pegboard. Each string will have 12 cells each. This particular panel will have three strings. When laying out the cells, use a bus wire to run over to the adjacent string to continue the connection. Each cells is to have a daub of silicone in the cent of the cell to glue to the pegboard. By gluing in the center, it allows the solar cell to "float" thus reducing stress to the fragile cell and prevent breakage. Drill a hole in the side of the 3/4" strip and run the negative and positive wire to the exterior of the panel.

TESTING CELLS: It is important to test the voltage output of the solar panel in direct sunlight prior to mounting the plexi-glass to the panel. Using a voltmeter, test the voltage output. If the voltage shows a negative reading, switch the terminals of your test leads. This will establish the true negative and positive ends the the cell run. On the positive end, solder the 3.0 amp diode to the terminal. The purpose of the diode is to protect the batteries from being drained by the solar panels at night. The diode only allows voltage to flow in one direction. It is important to solder the diode in the right direction. Otherwise, you will show no voltage output on your panel. In direct sunlight, you should show at least 18 volts. When I tested mine, I was showing 19.4 volts.

PLEXI-GLASS:Apply a bead of Silicone all the way around on the top edge of the 3/4" strips. This seals the panel from any moisture intrusion. Gently drill screw mounting holes every 12 inches or so. Be gentle on screwing down the screws. They must be snug. Over torquing will break plexi-glass.

You will find out by doing it yourself, you will save a substantial amount of money. In short, it is a great way to get you your project up and running at a fraction of the cost.

Comments

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    • jimcain207 profile imageAUTHOR

      James Cain 

      8 years ago from HUMPHREY, ARKANSAS

      Thanks for coming by. I enjoy seeing my light bill go down with real savings. This is my motivation for increasing my capacity.

    • Time4Travel profile image

      Time4Travel 

      8 years ago from Canada

      Thanks for the info! I might try to make a solar panel myself one day...

    • john.jackson profile image

      john.jackson 

      8 years ago from London, England

      Thank you so much, such a great article, I have placed a paragraph with a link to this article as I thought it was so important. My article is a general one on solar panels. Thanks again, great article

    • profile image

      adair_francesca 

      8 years ago

      Your hub is really useful as well as informative. I am also considering to make my own solar panels. Good thing that I saw this hub and it answered all my questions. Thanks for sharing all these.

    • HC0303 profile image

      HC0303 

      8 years ago

      Thanks for sharing. I didn't you can actually make a solar panel yourself. Good stuff.

    • JON EWALL profile image

      JON EWALL 

      8 years ago from usa

      gerald

      Check with your local government representatives regarding how to get grants, financing and government rebates.In addition sometimes your local electric power company may be able to give you some assistance.

      Last but not least, check your city building codes for building restrictions before you build your project.

      GOOD LUCK

    • jimcain207 profile imageAUTHOR

      James Cain 

      8 years ago from HUMPHREY, ARKANSAS

      gerald--The cheapest way is to do it yourself. A little at a time, but every journey begins with the first step. Start collecting components to make your own and be patient. The deciding factor is going to be your determination. You will get there. Soldering solar cells are tedious work, but the savings are substantial.Search for the best price and consider "B" cells instead of class "A" cells. Little things like this can help keep the costs down.

    • profile image

      gerald 

      9 years ago

      hi, sir i am planning to make a solar farm, but i don't have enough money to do it ,, do you have any suggestion that you could suggest to me?....tnx

    • JON EWALL profile image

      JON EWALL 

      9 years ago from usa

      JIMCAIN207

      YOU'RE WELCOME, YOUR HUB WAS INFORMATIVE FOR NOVICE BUILDERS

      JE

    • jimcain207 profile imageAUTHOR

      James Cain 

      9 years ago from HUMPHREY, ARKANSAS

      JON EWALL --Your comments are all valid points and considerations to consider. I appreciate your input.

    • jimcain207 profile imageAUTHOR

      James Cain 

      9 years ago from HUMPHREY, ARKANSAS

      Tretreat--The batteries stores the power until needed. The more batteries you have, the longer you can run without the sun and wind. The key is to generate enough to properly charge the batteries even when you are using the power. I had 10 batteries hooked up, but had to cut back to 5 because there was not enough to charge all 10 batteries. Once you generate enough to get off the grid, you can do away with the expense of the batteries. The light co. will have to change your meter to a two-way (in & out) meter once they certify your equipment. Every watt you generate is one less you will ave to pay for. YOU WILL see a nice difference in your light bill. I plan to totally eliminate mine in the future.

    • profile image

      Tretreat 

      9 years ago

      OK first thank you for all the useful info and the quick responses

      but I have another question

      how do I use solar power to run my light but say there is no wind, no sun ect........... do I have to run out in the middle of the night and move wires around to use city supplied electricity? I am wondering how not to have to do that and maybe even make my meter run backwards. I heard it can be done but would be happy lowering my bill.

    • JON EWALL profile image

      JON EWALL 

      9 years ago from usa

      Hubbers

      May I make some comments.

      If you intend to put solar panels on a roof or covered structure, you must consider

      The age and condition of the existing structure

      The type of existing roofing materials under the panels

      The location of the panels for maximum sun exposure

      Locations of higher structures that may shade the panels

      One should check for federal, state and local electric companies for existing rebates and credits that may effect the final cost to construct your panels.

      Before installing the panels, check with local registered contractors and/or suppliers in

      your area. Pre- construction inquires may save you time and money in the long run.

      Homeowners and novices can check my site for information on solar and wind products.

    • jimcain207 profile imageAUTHOR

      James Cain 

      9 years ago from HUMPHREY, ARKANSAS

      tretreat--the size of the inverter depends on your wattage usage. In my case, I have a 3,000 watt inverter with 6,000 watt peak. It is great for small appliances, ceiling fans, refrigerator, lights, etc. The day will come when that will be too small for me.I will replace it when my generation allows me to upgrade.I would start off with 2-3 batteries. My system generates power from solar panels and a wind generator. It is hard to calculate exactly what you will need because a wide range of varibles such as:

      1. voltage generation varies with cloudy skies or windless days--sun does not always shine and the wind does not always blow

      2. your electricity consumption rate varies--more during the day, less at night, wattages of appliances, etc.

      When your consumption exceeds your generation, you will run out of power at some point in time because you are on a declining scale. It is difficult to stay in that middle ground because of the varibles I mentioned and requires alot of monitoring.

    • profile image

      tretreat 

      9 years ago

      does the watt age of the power inverter matter and if so how would I figure what I need and will i need more than one battery?

    • jimcain207 profile imageAUTHOR

      James Cain 

      9 years ago from HUMPHREY, ARKANSAS

      Tretreat--The solar panels charges and the batteries stores the generated power. It must then go to a inverter which converts the voltage from 12v DC to 120v AC. It can then be hooked up to the circuit to the lights and work. Make sure the circuit is protected by a circuit breaker. My particular inverter has a built in 20 Amp circuit breaker for protection.

    • profile image

      Tretreat 

      9 years ago

      so how do I get the power from the battery to my lights?

    • Kiddo Zerglin profile image

      Ryan Miller 

      9 years ago from Michigan, USA

      If everyone made their own solar panels and helped their neighbors make one, the world would be a better place =) Great hub!

    • jimcain207 profile imageAUTHOR

      James Cain 

      9 years ago from HUMPHREY, ARKANSAS

      this is a journey I embarked upon over a year ago. It has already paid for itself since I built the panels myself, I am glad I don't have to wait years to get a return on my investment. Stay tuned. It get better from here out!! Thanks for coming by.

    • Cedar Cove Farm profile image

      Cedar Cove Farm 

      9 years ago from Southern Missouri

      I am about to begin the journey for more power. I am looking forward to adding to what we have. Thanks for this article.

    • profile image

      M.L.Nizar 

      9 years ago

      The useful details are shown on your website.

    • guidebaba profile image

      guidebaba 

      9 years ago from India

      Excellent article.

    • save my system profile image

      save my system 

      9 years ago from United Kingdom - London

      Solar energy is the most available natural energy resources. With proper use if it we can save lot more conventional energy sources. Solar heater is best way to give energy resources to single home. However, proper advertisement of this in essential.

    • justinskier profile image

      justinskier 

      9 years ago

      Check out my passive solar heater I built out of cans. It puts out 197 degrees for free.

    • Dstiteler profile image

      Blake Stiteler 

      9 years ago from cypress, Tx

      awesome (:!!! check out my hub about green trends?

      https://hubpages.com/technology/The-green-trendnot...

    • jimcain207 profile imageAUTHOR

      James Cain 

      9 years ago from HUMPHREY, ARKANSAS

      loisryan--It is not realy all that hard. If he has any questions, send me a email and I will be glad to help out.

    • profile image

      loisryan 

      9 years ago

      Yes! Yes! My hubby is going to love this! Your hub makes it look very easy.

    • jimcain207 profile imageAUTHOR

      James Cain 

      9 years ago from HUMPHREY, ARKANSAS

      JannyC & Cedar Cove Farm -Thanks for coming by. I am about to start building another solar panel shortly. The added capacity will be yhat much less I have to pay for each month. If you do decide to build your own, just drop me a line and I will be glad to help anyway I can if yuo have any questions.

    • Cedar Cove Farm profile image

      Cedar Cove Farm 

      9 years ago from Southern Missouri

      OK, you have me intrigued. We run our ceiling lights on solar now, all DC. We have two 500 watt panels on the roof connected to a 12 volt system. We had always planned on adding to it but the price for new panels is high. This might be a viable option. Thanks for sharing this.

    • JannyC profile image

      JannyC 

      9 years ago

      Thank you for this hub. I have always been interested in how solar panels work in all and you gave a friendly personal detail. Enjoyed this.

    • jimcain207 profile imageAUTHOR

      James Cain 

      9 years ago from HUMPHREY, ARKANSAS

      scheng1 & Primoz--Thanks for your comments. I plan to add an additional solar panel this spring to increase my capacity.I am also entertaining the thought of also combining a wind generator/solar panel system. We have good wind volumn here and I think it will enhance my system. This is funded by my savings from my light bill. I am glad it is a win/win situation.

    • profile image

      Primoz 

      9 years ago

      Excelent Hub, Homemade solar panels will save you money in two ways: you will save money by making them yourself at home instead of that buying them, and you will also save money because you will be producing your own electricity and therefore your electricity bill will be significantly reduced. If the total surface area of your solar panels is sufficient, you will actually be able to satisfy all of your electrical needs, and in some countries you will actually be able to sell your excess electrical power to vote local power company, which means that you will be making a net profit.

    • profile image

      scheng1 

      9 years ago

      It seems easier than making a doll house! Too bad I stay in an apartment block and have nowhere to place the solar panel.

    • jimcain207 profile imageAUTHOR

      James Cain 

      9 years ago from HUMPHREY, ARKANSAS

      Smireles--Thanks for coming by. I am so glad to get involved in the making of solar panels. It has already paid for itself. I love the reduction on my light bill.

    • RTalloni profile image

      RTalloni 

      9 years ago from the short journey

      Interesting info. Will have to refer to it again!

    • Smireles profile image

      Sandra Mireles 

      9 years ago from Texas

      Very helpful and useful information. You explained the process of making solar panels very well, too. Thank you.

    • jimcain207 profile imageAUTHOR

      James Cain 

      9 years ago from HUMPHREY, ARKANSAS

      DIYsolarpanelss--Good to know that you can build a low budget solar panel without taking perhaps years just to break even on your investment. And the savings are real.

    • profile image

      DIYsolarpanelss 

      9 years ago

      This article was very informative however if anyone is interested in making low budget home-built DYI solar panels check out the link below, i have been researching for sometime now and i found this article to be very helpful.

      http://www.squidoo.com/lowbudgethome-builtDIYsolar...

    • profile image

      john cain 

      9 years ago

      Sounds like an energy wise investment to make. It would be nice to see a light company truck just pass my house completely on meter reading day. Nice hub.

    • jimcain207 profile imageAUTHOR

      James Cain 

      9 years ago from HUMPHREY, ARKANSAS

      prasetio30--Thanks for your comment. It really works. I guess the 70.00 I saved this month will have to be spent elsewhere.

    • jimcain207 profile imageAUTHOR

      James Cain 

      9 years ago from HUMPHREY, ARKANSAS

      gus--If you do take on the soldering iron, I will help will backup support on what I can provide. Any questions? Just ask. I don't claim to be an expert, but I can help fill in any gaps and glad to do it.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 

      9 years ago from malang-indonesia

      I get new information here. I never found people use the solar cells in my city. I hope it become a solution for alternative energy. You cover all about how to make the solar cells. Two thumbs up for you!

    • jimcain207 profile imageAUTHOR

      James Cain 

      9 years ago from HUMPHREY, ARKANSAS

      Granny's House--thanks for your comment. You can buy them on Ebay. Just type in "solar cells" in search. Prices vary. I bought 150 cells for 200.00. My 4'x8' panel cost about 315.00 total. Pretabbed cells are more expensive, but less soldering. Class "b" cells has small chips, but works just fine, if you don't mind the appearance. They are cheaper still. Don't know about the wind mill though.

    • GusTheRedneck profile image

      Gustave Kilthau 

      9 years ago from USA

      Good Morning Jim - Makes me want to take out my soldering iron and get on with it !

      :-)))

    • Granny's House profile image

      Granny's House 

      9 years ago from Older and Hopefully Wiser Time

      How much do the cells cost and where do you get them? My husband was thinking of building a wind mill. Is the solar cheaper to build.

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